The liners, weighing perhaps 5 ounces or less, would go under a pitcher’s cap and help protect against line drives that often travel over 100 mph.
“We are actively meeting with a number of companies that are attempting to develop a product, and have reviewed test results for several products,” MLB spokesman Pat Courtney wrote in an email to The Associated Press after Happ was injured. “Some of the products are promising. No company has yet developed a product that has satisfied the testing criteria.”
Several pitchers around the majors sounded resistant — even after seeing replays of Happ’s injury.
“You know the risks,” Angels lefty C.J. Wilson said. “Guys get hurt crashing into fences. Guys get hurt tripping over first base and blowing their knee out. This is professional sports, and we are paid well to take those risks.”
MLB could implement the safety change in the minor leagues, as it did a few seasons ago with augmented batting helmets, but would require the approval of the players’ union to make big leaguers wear them.
Colorado Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa said if a helmet or liner is developed for pitchers, he’d gladly wear one.
“It wouldn’t be hard for me,” De La Rosa said. “To protect against those kinds of things, it’s good for us.”
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Homer Bailey doesn’t like the idea of wearing protective headgear.
“The game’s been played a long time. Situations like that are unfortunate, but we have to keep it our game,” he said. “I don’t think you have to adjust the whole program.”
And Seattle Mariners right-hander Aaron Harang thought it would be difficult for veteran major league pitchers to adapt to new equipment.
“I know it’s a hot topic,” he said, “but I don’t think it’s a problem that’s easily solved. I know a lot of people want pitchers to start wearing helmets. It’s a good idea in theory, but I don’t know how practical it is. I think you need to start with that at the lower level, I’m talking high school and maybe even lower, and then gradually introduce it into the higher level. I’ve been pitching since I was 6 years old and I’ve never worn a helmet. I think it would be tough to make that adjustment while pitching in a major league game.”
Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington wondered if there’s a viable solution.
“What can you do?” he said. “Tell hitters not to hit it back up the middle?”
Oakland right-hander Brandon McCarthy was hit on the head by a line drive last September, causing a skull fracture, an epidural hemorrhage and a brain contusion that required surgery. He was released from a hospital six days later.
McCarthy, who pitched for Arizona on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers, said he won’t watch video of Happ getting hit.